The rapid and precise delivery of small volumes of bio-fluids (from picoliters to nanoliters) is a key feature of modern bioanalytical assays. Commercial ink-jet printers are low-cost systems which enable the dispensing of tiny droplets at a rate which may exceed 10(4) Hz per nozzle. Currently, the main ejection technologies are piezoelectric and bubble-jet. We adapted two commercial printers, respectively a piezoelectric and a bubble-jet one, for the deposition of immunoglobulins into an ELISA plate. The objective was to perform a comparative evaluation of the two classes of ink-jet technologies in terms of required hardware modifications and possible damage on the dispensed molecules. The hardware of the two printers was modified to dispense an enzyme conjugate solution, containing polyclonal rabbit anti-human IgG labelled with HRP in 7 wells of an ELISA plate. Moreover, the ELISA assay was used to assess the functional activity of the biomolecules after ejection. ELISA is a common and well-assessed technique to detect the presence of particular antigens or antibodies in a sample. We employed an ELISA diagnostic kit for the qualitative screening of anti-ENA antibodies to verify the ability of the dispensed immunoglobulins to bind the primary antibodies in the wells. Experimental tests showed that the dispensing of immunoglobulins using the piezoelectric printer does not cause any detectable difference on the outcome of the ELISA test if compared to manual dispensing using micropipettes. On the contrary, the thermal printhead was not able to reliably dispense the bio-fluid, which may mean that a surfactant is required to modify the wetting properties of the liquid.
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